Ambisonic Field Recording Resources

2017/03/30

What are Ambisonic recordings? What microphones are used to capture these sound effects? What software is needed to use them? Where can you find Ambisonic field recordings?

This month’s series was designed to answer those questions. We’ve learned a lot about Ambisonics during the past month. We began by reviewing the basics. Then, a handful of field recordists generously shared their knowledge with us.

Today’s post summarizes all the info we’ve discovered so far. It includes a list of microphones, software, hardware, and applications for Ambisonics. There are also a few links to existing Ambisonic sounds you can download and try yourself.

Overview

Explorers of Ambisonics Articles

Here are the articles from this month’s series.

Ambisonic Microphone Options

Below is a brief list of Ambisonic microphones. Many of the following suggestions have been contributed by the sound pros interviewed during this month.

  • Soundfield Microphones
    • SoundField ST450 MKii ($7,561.00). The ST450 is arguably the most popular Ambisonic microphone on the market.
    • SoundField SPS422B ($5,435.00). A microphone/rack mount processor box combo.
    • SoundField SPS200 ($3,567.00). A software-controlled Ambisonic microphone.
    • DSF-B MKII ($12,777.00). A more pricey system that includes a microphone and rack mount processors, designed for broadcasters.
  • MH Acoustics EigenMike em32 ($20,000). An elite option capable of capturing 48 kHz/24-bit recordings up to the fourth order. This is a spherical microphone with 32 electric capsules that output to FireWire via the EigenMike Interface Box. Also includes a Pelican case, and the EigenStudio software. Windscreen is $700.
  • Core Audio TetraMic ($999). A lower-priced option reportedly better suited for recording indoors.
  • Sennheiser Ambeo VR 3D ($1,649). Pro microphone heavyweight Senneheiser’s first foray into Ambisonic microphones.
  • Embrace Cinema Brahma ($799 – $1,999). Brought to life by a Kickstarter project.
  • Zoom H2n ($159). Field recordist John Leonard notes that the H2n “allows you to record in a form that can be decoded for horizontal-only Ambisonic playback.” See his interview for more details. Also learn more on ambisonic.info.

Binaural Microphones

Binaural microphones are often mentioned in the same breath as Ambisonic mics. This is usually because they may be considered for VR, AR, and similar uses. They will not capture Ambisonic field recordings. They cannot be modified to replicate Ambisonic sound recordings, either. However, they are an option for spatial field recording, so I’ll include them here:

Upper-market binaural systems:

3Dio FreeSpace

  • Neumann KU 100 binaural dummy head ($7,999.95).
  • Wildtronics Stereo Ambient Array Microphone (SAAM) ($999, use discount code 6RJBRJD05FL7 for 5% off) – a microphone designed around the shape of the human head that captures field recordings with a binaural response.

    Wildtronics SAAM

  • 3Dio Free Space ($499+). This stand-mounted unit comes in three versions (1/8”, XLR, and DPA 4060).
  • 3Dio Omni ($2,499+) is a four-sided version of the Free Space, with four sets of ears. It is designed to work with 360 degree video production. Available in standard and DPA 4060 versions.

3Dio Omni

Lower-cost binaural recording microphones:

Sound Professionals SP-TFB-2

Microphones that can be adapted for binaural use:

The London Sound Survey has an excellent list of binaural microphone options.

Ambisonic Software

Below are selections of software that can be used with Ambisonic field recordings, binaural sound, and VR.

Plug-Ins

Ambisonic Toolkit

3D Tools

Ambisonic field recordings are often used for 360 video, 3D, and VR projects. These tools help:

  • Audioease 360pan and 360monitor Ambisonic processing and monitoring tools with converter plug-ins.
  • Facebook 360 Spatial Workstation software suite.
  • Sound Particles software designed to generate thousands of sounds in a virtual 3D world.
  • Steam Audio is a software kit that helps game audio designers use binaural field recordings to depict a realistic, immersive VR environment using reflections, occlusion, and so on.

View a full list of Ambisonic software.

Other Software

Other software is being developed to accommodate Ambisonic field recordings. Here are examples:

  • Twisted Wave audio editor. Reads and saves Ambisonic B-Format sound files.
  • AmbiExplorer android app. Allows exploring Ambisonic B-Format and UHJ audio files.

Example Ambisonic Applications

Here are some sample ways Ambisonic field recordings can be used:

Hardware: Headsets

Oculus Rift Development Kit 2

HTC Vive

Hardware: 360 Cameras

Ambisonic recording is often paired with video. Here are some options for capturing 360 degree video:

Hardware: Audio

Projects: Example Applications

Ambisonic Field Recordings & Sound FX

Read More

Do you have a favourite source of info about Ambisonic field recordings? A link you’d like to share with the community? Include it in the comments below.





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2 responses to Ambisonic Field Recording Resources

  1. Anyone interested in the history of Ambisonics should take a look at this website: https://www.michaelgerzonphotos.org.uk

    • Thank you for that Daniel, I have added it to the resources. Any many thanks for your contributions to Ambisonics! It’s a pleasure to have you here on the blog.